BHRC issues a statement condemning the attack on Camp Ashraf, Iraq on 08 April 2011

The Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC) condemns the excessive use of force by Iraqi security personnel against unarmed Iranian refugees at Camp Ashraf in Diyala province around 60 km north of Baghdad in Iraq. Camp Ashraf, home to approximately 3,400 Iranian refugees, including 1,000 women, came under attack by Iraqi security forces at 4:45 am local time on Friday, 8 April. The Camp residents, all of whom are recognised as Protected Persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention, were shot at indiscriminately and attacked by Iraqi soldiers. At least 33 Camp members have been killed, including 8 women. Over 300 people were injured, 178 of whom have sustained gunshot wounds, and several dozen are in a critical condition. Six of the wounded have been taken hostage by Iraqi forces and are being held at al-Khalis Prison; they are now on hunger strike.

Since 2009, there has been a medical blockade of Camp Ashraf and as such, there are inadequate medical supplies within the Camp to assist the injured. If the wounded are not treated immediately by medical professionals, the number of deaths will continue to rise. The BHRC urges US forces to evacuate the critically injured from Camp Ashraf and take them to the US medical hospital located within a close proximity to the Camp.

Furthermore, Iraqi security forces must immediately withdraw from Camp Ashraf and cease all use of violence. The excessive forced used by Nuri-al Maliki’s forces against unarmed civilians is entirely unacceptable. The BHRC urges Iraq to comply with its international obligations and abide by human rights conventions that it is a party to, notably Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, which provides that all civilians be treated humanely. The Iraqi government must permit lawyers, medical staff, journalists, observers and human rights organisations access to the Camp and its residents as a matter of urgency. The six wounded residents who are imprisoned must be released and treated for their injuries.

It is of paramount importance that the men and women inside the Camp are protected from further attacks. The BHRC calls on the USA and the United Nations to ensure Camp Ashraf residents are adequately protected. The Iraqi government should fully and impartially investigate the apparent excessive use of force by Iraqi security forces.

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The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales is the international human rights arm of the Bar of England and Wales. It is an independent body concerned with defending the rule of law and internationally recognised legal standards relating to human rights and the right to a fair trial.

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